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Novel Surfaces in Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation Circuits

It's difficult to strike a balance between systemic anticoagulation and clotting. The endothelium manages the equilibrium between anticoagulant and prothrombotic systems in proper hemostasis.

  • Novel Surfaces in Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation Circuits

It's difficult to strike a balance between systemic anticoagulation and clotting. The endothelium manages the equilibrium between anticoagulant and prothrombotic systems in proper hemostasis. Because of the blood-surface interaction during ECLS, systemic anticoagulation is required to reduce the risk of clotting. UNFH has a short half-life, is easy to titrate at the bedside, and is reversible with protamine. Despite these benefits, it has a number of drawbacks that increase morbidity and mortality in the ECLS group, including an increased risk of heparin-induced thrombocytopenia (HIT). The use of direct thrombin inhibitor (DTI) agents for systemic anticoagulation; surface modifications aimed at overcoming the blood-biomaterial surface interaction by modifying the hydrophilicity or hydrophobicity of the polymer surface; and coating the circuit with substances that mimic the endothelium or anti-thrombotic agents are all new trends in ECLS.


The ECC is composed of a pump, a membrane oxygenator, PVC tubing, and connections made of various materials such as polycarbonate and polystyrene. The pump drains deoxygenated blood into the membrane oxygenator (MO), and oxygenated blood is returned to the patient |LS|depending on ECMO mode–venovenous (VV) or venoarterial (VA)|RS|–into the venous or arterial circulation. Blood circulates outside the body and comes into touch with a wide surface area of foreign materials that lack endothelial-like properties, causing plasma protein adsorption, coagulation, and complement activation, as well as platelet and leukocyte activation and adhesion. The production of thrombus is aided by turbulent flow and shear stresses. The mechanisms that contribute to the production of thrombus are currently unknown.


Protein adsorption occurs quickly as blood meets the artificial surface, leading to platelet adhesion and thrombin activation, resulting in thrombus formation. To target thrombin inhibition and platelet adhesion/activation, several surface changes have been proposed, and others are constantly being researched and developed. Biomimetic surfaces |LS|heparin, nitric oxide (NO), and DTI|RS|; bio passive surfaces |LS|phosphorylcholine (PPC), albumin, and poly-2-methoxyethylacrylate (PMEA)|RS|; and endothelialization of blood contacting surfaces are the three major types of surface modifications. With heparin coating and zwitterionic PPC polymers, a combination of surface passivation and biomimetic surfaces is already in use in medical care.


In 1963, Gott et colleagues published the first HBC study, finding that heparin-coated surfaces attached to a colloidal graphite coating remained clot-free for at least 14 days, but uncoated surfaces produced clots within 2 hours. Local NO release at the blood biomaterial surface interface reduces platelet consumption and eliminates the need for systemic heparinization, as well as platelet activation and thrombus formation, demonstrating proof of principle in studies that used similar covalent modification strategies by incorporating NO into the polymer backbone of ECC surfaces. Despite a sound theoretical foundation, further work/research is needed to identify a better way to build non-thrombogenic MWCNTs, as they would be a very efficient technique of local NO release at the blood biomaterial surface.


In the outer membrane cell, PPC is the most common hydrophilic polar head group of phospholipids. Wang et colleagues used crosslinking to create a stable PCC technique, and when compared to uncoated ECC surfaces, they found that protein adsorption, platelet adhesion, and activation were significantly reduced. Nagahashi et al. produced another PPC-based copolymer, which considerably reduced protein adsorption and lasted for 84 days. When compared to HBC, PMEA coating may be more effective at suppressing plasma protein adsorption, such as fibrinogen, and may lessen the requirement for procedural platelet infusions. It was equally effective in avoiding CPB-induced responses. It was equally effective in inhibiting CPB circuit-induced responses. Other studies show a higher risk of post-procedural leukopenia and perhaps SIRS, with no difference in platelet aggregation and probably inferior to heparin coatings in inhibiting complement activation.
The endothelium is defined by its entire compatibility with blood and manages the balance between anticoagulant and prothrombotic systems. Surface endothelialization can be accomplished using two methods: in vitro and in vivo. In in-vitro, it has been modified using surrounding ECM molecules like as fibronectin (Fn), indicating that Fn coatings can promote EC adherence, spreading, proliferation, and migration. Coating research for medical devices is now underway, however it has yet to be tested in extracorporeal circuits. 

Surface alteration technique that dodges NO filtering is effective with DBHD/NO. The molecule remains within the natural stage of the polymer. Liu and String have distributed point by point audits on the a few forms investigated to progress this strategy: cellular and pharmacological treatment coordinated to extend the concentration of circulating EPCs; and surface adjustments with bio-functional atoms such as monoclonal antibodies, nucleic corrosive aptamers, cytokines and hereditary modifiers to initiate EPC conglomeration, attachment, and separation. Researchers still encounter many constraints and challenges because this is a complex process due to low EC proliferation activity, difficulty in controlling cell behavior; and creating the "ideal" artificial surfaces that will improve EPC functional capacity, encourage selective adhesion of EPCs and ECs onto its surface, and inhibit thrombogenesis at the cellular level. Latest research has been conducted on nanofabricated cardiac grafts reinforced with biomaterials that can stimulate in situ endothelialization without intimal hyperplasia and thrombosis arising throughout endothelium formation, however it is still in the early phases of development.

One of the most difficult elements of ECLS treatment is keeping the patient's hemostasis while preserving the extracorporeal circuit's patency. This study outlines the current and future research required to construct an extracorporeal circuit that can mimic the endothelium and eliminate the requirement for systemic anticoagulation. With a living cellular interface, it will most likely feature biomimetic and biopassive properties. The progress in endothelialization is indeed inspiring; yet, tailoring the circuit to the patient's own endothelial cells is not a task that can be completed in a day, much alone months or years. This does not eliminate it as a potential surface; rather, it restricts it to either a particular component of the circuit, such as the oxygenator, or to usage in a patient who may require artificial support in the future. As we continue to hold progressively higher risk patients on ECLS for longer durations of time, the necessity for such a surface increase.

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